Let's just come right out an say it, having a baby IS expensive, no matter which way you look at it.
Aside from a brief baby shower, there isn't much else to help reduce the financial burden that comes with a new born.
What's even worse is that most Americans have little-to-no grasp on the costs.
According to a 2017 survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet, 29% had no money saved up before the baby was born to help with the costs of the child’s first year.
But having a baby doesn't have to break the bank...
Yes, it will cost a lot of money, especially the childcare, but there are ways to get creative and spread your dollars a bit further.
Given the insane amount of people that could use the help, we've decided to compile 10 of our favorite money saving "hacks" that should curb those baby costs.
Let's get into it!
1. Remember Your Taxes!
Thankfully Uncle Sam DOES try to help with it comes to baby care providing a multitude of tax deductions, credits, and programs that exist solely to help with baby funding.
Here are the key programs and a couple bites of information on each:
- Childcare Tax Credit: If you're married and collectively make under $400,000 with your spouse ($200,000 if not married), you can get a $2,000 credit PER CHILD, which deducts $2,000 from your taxes owed. This almost ALWAYS results in a larger tax refund at the end of the year (yay). Check out this article for more on how this works.
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA): If your job offers an FSA account, you can contribute and buy things you need for your baby tax free with those funds. This could result in a 20-30% discount on certain items. Qualifying expenses include: baby sitting, nanny expenses, before and after school care, daycare, nursery, and preschool. For more information on how an FSA works click here.
2. Befriend People In Daycare
This one might be a little bit more creative and require you to do a little networking before you have your child, but could say you a TON of money in daycare costs.
If you have a skill you can offer or something of value, consider reaching out to local day cares to negatiate a trade.
For example, we knew of a tax accountant who offered to do taxes for free in exchange for day care services. The taxes were extremely easy to do and saved the family much more in stress and time.
You might not able to do someone else's taxes, but what can you offer that someone else might need?
Also something to note...
If you have a family member with a job in day care, they are allowed to care for family members without it counting against their total children. Some states/counties have restrictions on the amount of kids a single person can care for.
A family member does not count against that total.
3. Use Craigslist
One of the biggest mistakes parents make when getting their first baby is buying everything new!
A new swing, new clothes, new pack 'n play, you get the point.
Parent's want the best for their children.
But kids grow up so fast, if you're buying them new clothes, you're going to be racking up quite a bill every time they grow an inch!
Craigslist can be one of best places to save money as a new parent.
Certain things you don't want to buy used (like a car seat, stroller, or crib), but most other things you can!
Give it a go, you won't regret it.
4. Use Facebook Groups
As an alternative to Craigslist for those of you who might be a bit anxious, you might want to try joining local buy/sell/trade Facebook groups.
They're inherently a bit more public than Craigslist as you need to join with your personal Facebook profile.
The best thing (and the worst thing) about babies is they continuously outgrow their stuff. This creates a constant stream of "new" used baby stuff coming through.
Once your baby has outgrown a certain stage, you can then hop back onto Facebook and start trying to offload it to the next parent.
5. Buy Socks Not Shoes
Did you know that shoes have no effect on the development of the baby's foot?
An article published by the University of Southern California notes shoes are not necessary for development of the your baby's arch. Instead, they only protect the their feet from the environment!
They go on to mention that children outgrow their shoe size approximately 3 times per year, every year, until age 11! That a lot of new shoes!
If you're the type of parent who'll stuff their child's foot into a size or two smaller, then you could be disrupting the growth of their foot muscles.
The article also goes on to say that instead of sneakers or shoes when going outside, grab a pair of socks or booties instead. They accomplish the same goal of keeping your child's foot warm and protected.
Let's also not forget that babies cant walk... so why shoes?
Save your money, skip shoes, so socks.
6. Pick Neutral Colors
Piggybacking off #3 and the idea of REUSING, if you buy neutral color clothes, you'd be able to use them again for your next child no matter if you have a boy or girl.
Also, if you want to SELL your old baby stuff, you make it 2x easier since parents of boys OR girls may be interested in buying.
Does this mean your child is bound for an impending identity crisis?
Of course not!
Feel free to get the other knickknacks in a pretty pink or a nice baby blue, but when it comes to the wardrobe, try to stay neutral. You'll end up saving a ton.
7. Test Drive Baby Products
Where you can, test drive various baby products before pulling the trigger and actually buying.
For example, say you go over to your friend's house and notice how much their child loves to play in their swing. You think you'll get one and your child will be just as happy!
You go and buy a nice new swing for your baby only to learn that they HATE it and prefer to just crawl around on the ground.
Save yourself the money and test drive new products (pacifiers, swings, etc) before you buy them.
Make sure your child actually likes to play in a swing before you buy it!
P.S. This also goes for consumable baby products too. Make sure to test drive diapers, food, and other such items before buying in bulk. We've heard horror stories of moms who buy 10 cases of Huggies only to find out their baby hates them!
8. Cloth Diapers
Although they come with a slight learning curve, when you get the hang of them, cloth diapers can save you a decent amount of money when it comes to diaper costs.
We found a pretty interesting comment on Reddit worth a quick read to hammer home the point that cloth can definitely save you some money.
9. Make Baby Food
Seem daunting right?
Making baby food?!
Yes, you an do it alternatively easily, and it will save you a ton of money.
Get a pot, a pan, and a food processor (or a blender as both work). Use older vegetables or fruit as they as easier to mash. Add everything to your pan and add water until you achieve your desired consistency.
Interesting in learning more? Check out our baby making food guide by clicking here.
10. Buy A Playpen Not A Crib
Something you might not have heard before!
Instead of buying a stationary crib, buy a Playard or a Pack n' Play type arrangement. They both makes things MUCH more mobile and can save you a TON of money.
Having a consistent sleeping area can also do wonders for keeping your baby comfortable in foreign homes (e.g., sleeping over at aunt's or uncle's).
Just be sure to buy NEW. Cribs, car seats, and diapers are all things you'd want NEW. Save everything else for Craigslist/Facebook groups (see section 3 and section 4 above respectively).
11. Look For The 2-in-1 Style
It seems like every single baby piece of equipment can turn into some other piece of equipment.
Changing tables turning into a dresser...
Swings that can convert into bouncer seats perfect for feeding time...
A high-chair that converts into a booster seat as your child gets older...
The list goes on.
It's just about being aware that these things exist and specifically looking for them when shopping.
Our recommendation, grab a couple convertible items and save yourself a buck!
12. Here's a Quick List Of Things You Don't Need
In case you didn't know, the baby industry is HUGE.
Companies are fighting tooth and nail to convince you that you need every bell and whistle to ensure your child makes it to their 10th birthday.
Let's cut the crap for a second and make a list within our list (list inception!) of things you don't necessarily need. This is of course our opinion and subject to personal preferences, but let us know if you agree!
Commence the list...
- Bottle Warmer (Nope)
- Bottle Chiller (Nope x2)
- Change Table (Get a cheaper changing pad and put it on a desk)
- Nightlights (Doubt you'll baby will even know it's there)
- Monitors (You'll know when your baby is awake, trust us)
- Wipe warmer (meh...)
- Toys (your friends and family will buy these by the truckload)
- More than one stroller (get one with am umbrella and you're good to go)
- A diaper genie (cost more to maintain than using regular trash bags and rolling up your diapers after use)
- Baby clothes for 0-1 years old (see point 7, family and friends will buy these. Make sure you tell them neutral colors though to sell them later!)
And that's it for now.
As I come up with more (and creative ways to describe them) i'll post them here.
But that's it!
No go forth and save money! 🙂